Saturday, October 11, 2008

Random Thoughts

My laptop at home is currently out of service, so posting will be sporadic until I get the replacement parts I need - I feel guilty posting at work! (Today's our observed Columbus Day, though, so I don't feel too bad about it.) I've got a random collection of observations for you, none of which is long enough for a post of its own.
  • I went grocery shopping with a friend on Wednesday night, and we spent about an hour wandering around Carrefour marveling at the various products that you just can't find in the states. For example, Olga walked over to a table of ice and picked up a whole, freshly killed baby shark by the fins. The nice guys at the fish department then cleaned it for her and handed her the meat. Total cost? About $3 a pound.
  • Grocery stores here sell bottled spices and other goods, but they also have counters with buckets of spices, sweets, olives, nuts, and beans available for your choice of quantity. It's like a deli, but for deliciousness.
  • I can tell that I've been here long enough to be mostly acclimated. As Olga and I were pushing our cart around, I nudged her and said, "Ooh, look at her abaya! I really like that one!" We then started laughing, because among all abayas, there is perhaps a 5% variance in appearance, found only in the hemming at the wrists, neck, and heels.
  • It is hard to find your friends in public places when all of the women are wearing solid black.
  • ...which leads to an important question: when out in public, do you coordinate your shoes and purse with your clothing underneath the abaya or with the black abaya itself?
  • The most incongruous thing ever: seeing a Saudi man wearing a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat painting the faces of small children in a mall. (Painting their faces poorly, I might add.)
  • We're off of complete lockdown now, although there are still severe restrictions on where we can go and how long we can spend there. To celebrate, I'm going out for lunch with friends in half an hour or so.
  • Last week I had to explain to one of our local hires who Columbus was and why we have a holiday for him. Given how ubiquitous the story of Columbus is in elementary-school classrooms, it was somewhat of a shock to find someone to whom he wasn't all that important in local history.

And finally, I may go to Yemen in December for a few weeks to cover a staffing shortage there. I am actually excited to go there, despite everything that's happened in the last month. If I had my choice of all Arab countries to be assigned to in A-100, Yemen and Syria would have been at the top of the list. But here I am, so I'll take what I can get.


  1. Your blog post gave me weird dreams about Carrefour!

    I've missed you in your laptoplessness, but have been taking the opportunity to go back to the beginning of your blog and start reading. The background on the foreign service is really interesting. I'm also impressed that you've kept such a well-updated and in-depth blog for over a year! Hope you're doing well and surviving without the corruption of the internet.

  2. If Yemen would have been one of your top choices, and they have a staffing shortage, why put you in your current post? A bigger shortage? :)